The 1988 Project Day 28 – Tommy Herr

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

Tommy Herr was never the kind of player who bowled you over, but for a second baseman during his era, he was more than adequate – an All Star, even, and looking at his numbers in context, I think I’d agree with that assessment. Tom began his career with the Cardinals in 1979 and was associated with the team all the way up until 1988. His best year with the Cards was 1983, when he hit .323/.403/.412 for a 126 OPS+. REALLY damn good for a second baseman in 1983. He had a solid year in 1985, as well, hitting 8 homers on his way to a .302/.379/.416 mark. Of course, he also got to the World Series in 1982 and 1987.

1988 Fleer Update

Tommy was traded to the Twins for Tom Brunansky, as mentioned in the Brunansky entry. While Brunansky went on to be a beast for the Cardinals, hitting .263/.349/.326. Compared to Brunansky, it was a shadow of a season, but I guess the Twins had a hole in the lineup that they needed to fill.

1988 Score Rookie & Traded

He didn’t stick with the Twins long, though, as they dealt him to the Phillies in the offseason for Shane Rawley. He would go on to put up what was arguably his third-best season with the Phils, sort of a last hurrah. He hit .287/.352/.364 with the Phils in 1989, a 106 OPS+. He ended with a 3.2 WAR, and for the first time in ages, his fielding did not affect his WAR. That’s right: Tommy Herr was not a very good fielder. I was honestly surprised. In 1982, his fielding value according to fangraphs was 14.0, amazing, but he had -11.0 and -14.0 seasons in his future. The Phils held on to Herr until the middle of the 1990 season, dealing him to the Mets for Rocky Elli and Nikco Riesgo after the trade deadline. He played 27 games with the Mets in 1990.

1988 Topps Traded

Tommy spent a portion of 91 with the Mets, and it was clear he was reaching the end of the line. He hit .194/.328/.258 (!) with a 68 OPS+ before the Mets released him in August, and he signed with the Giants. They would turn out to be his last team. He hit .250/.384/.300 with the team, a marked improvement, but it wasn’t enough; the team released him that Fall, and his career was over.

I’m going with the Fleer Update card here. As nice as that Score is, the Fleer Update shows the kind of player he was: no ear flaps on the helmet, no batting gloves. As stripped down as you can get, a kind of old school player. Grittiness is kind of a punchline these days, as it deserves to be, but I do think there’s something to players who play the game that way. It’s not necessarily the “right” way, but it’s fun to watch. That’s something that Tommy Herr brought to the game, I think, and why I chose him.

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2 Comments

Filed under The 1988 Project

2 responses to “The 1988 Project Day 28 – Tommy Herr

  1. You won’t find ANY Twins fans with fond memories of Tommy Herr. He came in from trade whining that he didn’t want to be in Minnesota, and the front office shed no tears getting rid of him after the season ended.

  2. Intriguing. In retrospect the trade really never made any sense, even from a salary dump perspective. I didn’t realize he was a whiner, though. That kind of knocks him down a bit in my view…

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